The trial of two men charged in the televised beating of Reginald Denny and others opened Thursday with a gruesome slide show by prosecutors and with defense attorneys' staunch denials that their clients took part in the bloody attacks during last year's Los Angeles riots.

With a series of pictures from four videotapes of the scene, Deputy District Attorney Lawrence Morrison recounted to wincing jurors the pummeling that Damian Williams, 20, and Henry Watson, 28, allegedly inflicted on Denny and seven other victims."Certain days stand out in history," Morrison said during his opening statement. "We the citizens of Los Angeles will never forget April 29, 1992, when we saw these horrible crimes broadcast into our living rooms."

But Williams' attorney, Edi M.O. Faal, belittled the prosecution's evidence, particularly the videotapes. He said they do not show either Williams or Watson doing anything wrong and "distort the reality of what took place at the intersection" of Florence and Normandie avenues.

"The evidence will show that they (the defendants) are being tried as scapegoats" for the deadly riots that followed the acquittal in state court of the police officers who beat Rodney King.

The two defendants face 12 felony counts, including aggravated mayhem and attempted murder, and could receive life sentences if convicted. With up to 70 witnessesscheduled to testify for the prosecution alone, the trial is expected to last about three months.

Throughout Thursday's proceedings, the defendants, dressed in street clothes, sat hunched over the defense table while fidgeting with their hands.

Outside the courthouse, about 50 sign-toting protesters marched demanding "Freedom for the LA4," the name given Watson, Williams and the two other black men charged with beating Denny.

"All we want is for Damian Williams and Henry Watson to get a fair trial, and they have already been found guilty by the public," said Father Carlos Harvan, a black activist and pastor of the Imani Temple in Los Angeles.

Hoping to defuse a defense of mistaken identity, Morrison started his hour-and-a-half presentation by meticulously pointing out the defendants in dozens of still frames taken from videotapes. He told the jurors that they could "easily identify" the defendants because "each was distinctively dressed, even if you can't see his face."

The prosecution's biggest challenge may be to prove that Williams and Watson specifically intended to kill Denny, an essential element of the attempted murder charge.

Morrison punctuated his point with a shocking photograph of a three-dimensional CAT scan that showed the crumpled right side of Denny's skull. Several jurors gasped and turned their heads away when the picture was projected on a screen.

As for Watson, the prosecutor said he was guilty of aiding and abetting the attempted murder by holding Denny's head down with his foot, allowing others to beat the trucker unconscious.